News roundup
7:46 am
Tue December 14, 2010

In this morning's news...

Lawmakers to Make Unexpected Trip Back to Lansing

It appears that this year’s lame duck legislative session isn’t done after all.  Though lawmakers declared an end to session on December 3rd, it turns out both the Democratic-led House and Republican-led Senate will return to the Capitol tomorrow.  But, as the Associated Press reports, neither chamber are expected to take up any controversial measures including teacher-tenure reform and insurance coverage for autism treatments.

Flint Crime Hits Horrible Statistic

The city of Flint recorded its 62nd murder of the year on Monday, that broke Flint’s previous record of 61 murders in one year set back in 1986, Steve Carmody reports. To make matters worse, the city has issued layoff notices to about a hundred employees, including 20 police officers. The layoffs are intended to help reduce the city’s projected $5 million budget deficit.  

Snyder Appoints Familiar Name to Head MEDC

Govenror-elect Rick Snyder announced Doug Rothwell will lead the Michigan Economic Development Corporation in his new administration.  It’ll be a familiar job for Rothwell as he headed the MEDC in the 1990’s when then Governor John Engler created the agency.  Rothwell is currently President and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan, a group of 75 CEOs in the state.  In a show of bipartisanship support, outgoing Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm stood by Snyder’s side when he made the announcement.

It’s COLD Out There

Parts of Lower Michigan will get hit with single-digit temperatures today.  National Weather Service officials say the wind chill could make it feel like 10 degrees below zero in parts of the state.  The cold temps come after Sunday and Monday’s severe winter storm that left more than 150,000 people without power.  At least eight deaths in the state are being blamed on the storm.

Governor-elect
7:20 am
Tue December 14, 2010

Snyder names key members of jobs team

Governor-elect Rick Snyder
Photo courtesy of www.governorelectricksnyder.com

Republican Governor-elect Rick Snyder continues to name new members of his incoming administration. 

Yesterday, Snyder announced that Doug Rothwell would lead the Michigan Economic Development Coporation.  As Rick Pluta reports, it will be Rothwell’s second turn at the job. He was the MEDC’s first director after Governor John Engler created the agency in the 1990s. Rothwell is currently the President and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan, a group of the state's top 75 CEO's.

In a show of bipartisanship, outgoing Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm stood next to Snyder as he made the announcement.

State Legislature
7:00 am
Tue December 14, 2010

They're back... Lawmakers to make a (quick) trip back to Lansing

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Terry Johnston/Flickr

Well, it appears that state lawmakers aren't quite done with this year's lame duck legislative session.

It's been announced that both the Democrat-led House and Republican-led Senate will convene at the state Capitol tomorrow.  The news comes after lawmakers declared their two-year session was done on December 3rd.

However, the Associated Press reports, that neither chamber is expected to take up any controversial issues:

The House is expected to deal with legislation cracking down on human trafficking and a few other issues. The Senate will deal with bills that can't be sent to GovernorJennifer Granholm because they didn't get an immediate effect vote or because they were changed by the House. Lawmakers aren't expected to take up insurance coverage for autism, teacher tenure rules or other sensitive subjects that were left unaddressed before adjourning earlier this month.

Detroit
6:40 am
Tue December 14, 2010

Financial Manager of Detroit Public Schools to stay on job until June

DPS Financial Manager Robert Bobb
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

Robert Bobb, the state appointed Emergency Financial Manager of Detroit Public Schools, will stay on the job through the end of the school year.  Bobb was appointed to the position by outgoing Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm.  Bobb's one-year contract ends in March.

According to a spokesman for Governor-elect Rick Snyder, a deal has been worked out to keep Bobb on the job through June.

The Associated Press reports:

Detroit Public Schools spokesman Steve Wasko says the extra 120 days gives Bobb more time to work out a "fully smooth transition" to the next emergency manager or a new superintendent.

Transportation funding
6:20 pm
Mon December 13, 2010

MDOT officials not sweating matching funds for rail, yet

Picture of an AVE Spain High Speed Rail Train at Cordoba Railway Station, Spain.
Creative Commons

Efforts to raise enough money to bring a high speed rail project to Michigan aren’t over just because this legislative session is. Bills were introduced last month to sell bonds in order to raise $45 million in support of the project. The matching money is needed to secure a little more than $161 million in federal grants. But state senate did not take action on the bills before ending the lame duck session last week.

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Sports
6:07 pm
Mon December 13, 2010

Football fans swarm Detroit

Downtown Detroit is abuzz with Monday night football fever this evening. But they’re not talking about the Lions.

 

Ford Field is hosting a game between the New York Giants and the Minnesota Vikings.

 

Their game was cancelled when snow collapsed the roof of the Minneapolis Metrodome Sunday.

 

Fans lined up for free tickets beginning early Monday morning, but the crowd was so big the box office stopped giving them away around mid-morning.

 

Read more
Auto/Economy
6:03 pm
Mon December 13, 2010

Thousands seek utility assistance in Detroit

Thousands of DTE Energy customers came to Detroit’s Cobo Hall looking for help today (Monday). The utility hosted its third “customer assistance day” there.

DTE Vice President Joyce Hayes Giles says the event is a “one-stop shop” to match customers with government and non-profit utility assistance programs.

Hayes Giles says the high turnout isn’t surprising. 

“It speaks to the need in our community. But it also speaks to the fact that we’re going to help a number of customers and we’re really pleased to be able to do that.”

 

Hayes Giles says DTE also raised more than a million dollars for its own customer assistance program. That money will be refunded to qualified DTE customers as credits on their monthly bill.

Flint Struggles with Violent Crime
5:47 pm
Mon December 13, 2010

Flint moving ahead with police layoffs, after city breaks murder rate record

Flint has set a new record for murders in the city in a single year.   


This comes at a time when the city plans to lay off 20 police officers later this week. 


Flint recorded its 62nd murder of the year on Monday.  That broke Flint’s previous record of 61 murders in a year set back in 1986, when the city of Flint was much larger.  There are no suspects in Flint’s 62nd homicide of the year. 


And beginning Friday, there will be fewer police officers in Flint. 

Read more
Economy
4:48 pm
Mon December 13, 2010

More Michigan residents seek help at homeless shelters this winter

More Michigan residents are seeking help at homeless shelters and warming centers this winter.
SamPac creative commons

More Michigan families are seeking out homeless shelters and warming centers this winter. And the need will likely continue to increase as temperatures fall below zero.

The HOPE Hospitality and Warming Center in Pontiac is a place people can go for a warm meal, a blanket and a spot on the floor to sleep during the winter months.

Elizabeth Kelly is HOPE's executive director. She says in addition to the core group of chronically homeless the shelter usually serves, she’s also seen an increase in the number of families seeking shelter: 

"These are people finding themselves in a homeless condition for the first time in their lives or its just not something that’s typically happened to them before."

 

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HEALTH CARE REFORM LAW
4:00 pm
Mon December 13, 2010

Michigan AG praises ruling striking down part of national health care law

Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox is praising a federal judge’s ruling striking down part of the federal health care reform law. 


The federal judge ruled the health care law is unconstitutional because it requires all Americans to buy insurance.   The Justice Department plans to appeal.

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Crime
1:58 pm
Mon December 13, 2010

Flint breaks 25-year-old murder record

Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Just a day after tying a record set in 1986, Flint recorded its 62nd homicide of the year. The body of a man was found slumped over in a car parked on a city street.

At a news conference this morning, before the latest murder victim was found, Flint Mayor Dayne Walling blamed the spike in violence in his city on the loss of jobs.

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Auto/Economy
1:20 pm
Mon December 13, 2010

Toyota issues new recall

Toyota issued a recall of the 2011 Sienna minivan
Ian Westcott - flickr user

Toyota is recalling Sienna minivans.   This is just the latest recall that Toyota has issued in the past year.

The Associated Press reports:

Toyota says it will recall nearly 100,000 Sienna minivans from the 2011 model year to replace a switch bracket on the brake lamp.

The Japanese automaker says a driver's foot could hit the switch bracket and deform it while applying the parking brake pedal. Toyota says there have been no accidents or injuries related to this issue.

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Sports
12:57 pm
Mon December 13, 2010

Big Ten changes its logo

The Big Ten is changing up its logo.   The conference is adding Nebraska next fall, so a change was needed.    The Big Ten will have 12 teams beginning next fall.   What do you think of the new logo?


The conference also announced the names of its new divisions?  Instead of naming them for directions (ie North vs South) or after people (ie Bo vs Woody), the Big Ten will be divided between "Legends" and "Leaders" 


 LEGENDS: Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern

Environment
12:35 pm
Mon December 13, 2010

Feds says wolverine 'should' be on endangered species list

Though long gone from Michigan, the wolverine can be found in other parts of the US and Canada.   But in declining numbers:


The Associated Press reports:


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the wolverine should be to be added to the list of endangered and threatened species.


But the federal agency says adding the wolverine now is precluded by higher priorities - that is, other species considered in greater danger.

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Crime
11:30 am
Mon December 13, 2010

Flint homicide rate may have reached record number

Boarded up houses in Flint's north end neighborhood
creative commons

Update 11:30 a.m.:

Just hours after city officials in Flint called a news conference about tying the homicide record, The Flint Journal is reporting that the record appears to be broken. Police are now at the scene of a potential slaying:

Police are at the scene now at Harriet and Donald streets, where there was a report of a man in vehicle who appeeared to be shot. If the death is considered a homicide, it would be the city's 62nd. The highest number of homicides ever previously recorded in the city was 61 in 1986.

Update 11:20 a.m.:

The Flint Journal made a map showing where homicides in the city have taken place. There have been no arrests in 25 of the 60 homicides noted.



View Flint homicides in a larger map

10:12 a.m.:

The City of Flint is holding a news conference this morning about the city's homicide rate. The 61st homicide was recorded last night making this year the worst on record since 1986.

In a press release issued last night, city officials said "police responded to a call at a home in the 600 block of West Ridgeway, on the city's north side, just before 7:30 Sunday evening."

Three people were found shot inside the home. One was pronounced dead at the scene.

Mayor Walling said

"We have reached a tragic milestone in Flint, tying the homicide record established in 1986. Residents must continue to be vigilant about reporting crimes and providing police with information that will get criminals off the streets. I applaud the swift work of our hard working police officers in apprehending a suspect within hours of the city's latest homicide."

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Sports
10:49 am
Mon December 13, 2010

Vikings - Giants game moves to Detroit after heavy snowfall

The Metrodome during a Twins game. The dome collapsed under the weight of the weekend snowfall.
John Schroeder - flickr

Update: 10:49 a.m.:

The Lions are reporting that due to "overwhelming" response, free tickets to tonight's NFL game at Ford Field are no longer being offered.

Update: 12/13/10, 9:30 a.m.:

Fans in downtown Detroit are lining up at Ford Field to get free tickets for tonight's NFL game between the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants. Detroit Lions President Tom Lewand said on WJR this morning that there going to work to make sure everyone can be accommodated, "but I think we're going to be a little oversubscribed."

In case you haven't seen it yet, the NFL has some impressive video of the Metrodome collapsing.

12/12/10, 12:45 p.m.:

The New York Times has put together an interactive before and after photo showing how the roof of the Metrodome deflated after heavy snowfall. The Giants and Vikings were scheduled to play there today.

The NFL moved the game to Ford Field and will be played tomorrow night (Monday) at 7:20pm. The Detroit Free Press reports it'll be the "first ever regular-season Monday Night game at Ford Field."

News Roundup
8:05 am
Mon December 13, 2010

In this morning's news...

Severe Winter Weather Hits Michigan

In case you haven’t peered out your window yet this morning… we are waking up to severe winter weather.  There are hundreds of closed schools across the state including Ann Arbor Public, Kalamazoo Public, Jackson Public and Lansing Public Schools.  As The Associated Press reports, “...at least two fatal crashes are blamed on the wintry storm that has pummeled Michigan with heavy wind-blown snow. Winds will continue to gust today as power crews restore electricity to thousands of blacked-out customers.”

Snow = Free Football Tickets?

Free general admission tickets to a football game tonight at Ford Field in downtown Detroit will be given out beginning this morning at 9 a.m.  That’s because the Minnesota Vikings’ home game against the New York Giants was moved to Ford Field after the inflated roof of the Vikings’ Metrodome collapsed yesterday under the weight of heavy snow.  As the Detroit Free Press reports, it’s the “snow’s silver lining.”

Deer Hunting Declines

There has been a steady decline in the number of hunters participating in firearm deer season in Michigan, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette.  According to the Gazette, “The final numbers won’t be out until the middle of 2011, but the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment says preliminary data show about a 4 percent decrease in both the number of hunters who came out for firearm season, which ended on Nov. 30, and the number of kill tags sold.”

WINTER WEATHER
7:33 am
Mon December 13, 2010

Winter storm slams Michigan

Jmenard48/Flickr

A big winter storm has hit parts of the upper Midwest, including Michigan.  There are hundreds of school closings across the state as wind and cold temperatures make a hard commute this morning for motorists.  As the Associated Press reports:

"...a punishing Midwest winter storm pushed through the state, leaving at least two people dead and blacking out 105,000 homes and businesses. National Weather Service officials say high temperatures in the teens and wind gusts approaching 40 mph were expected Monday in Lower Michigan, where residents along southern Lake Michigan got upward of 20 inches of snow. About 7 inches fell in suburban Detroit."

Ann Arbor Public Schools, Jackson Public Schools, Lansing Public Schools, and Kalamazoo Public Schools are just some of the closed school districts across the state.

WINTER WEATHER
6:45 am
Mon December 13, 2010

School Closings: Monday, December 13th

We're getting word of school closings across the state this morning.  They include Ann Arbor Public Schools, Jackson Public Schools, Kalamazoo Public Schools and Lansing Public Schools.

Be sure to check your child's school to see if it's closed due to winter weather.

The following websites have detailed school-closing information:

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Economy
4:34 pm
Sat December 11, 2010

Village of Baldwin hopes a prison contract can revive the area

California inmates will be housed in a Baldwin prison beginning in 2011
Flickr user Still Burning Creative Commons

The tiny village of Baldwin is hoping a private prison contract bringing thousands of inmates from California to Michigan will help revitalize the area. Baldwin is 65 miles north of Grand Rapids.

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